Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/455/5550
End the occupations
What's socialism got to do with it?
The Israeli regime's brutal onslaught on Lebanon, backed by Bush and Blair, created massive anger worldwide.
The oppression of Palestinians, who are still without national and democratic rights, and the disaster of Iraq still evoke outrage.
As socialists we call for the troops to be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan and to end the occupation of Lebanon. But even if these demands were met would peace be possible in the Middle East?
We have to ask: what are the causes of war and oppression; in whose interests are wars started? Only then can we look for a solution not just to these present-day conflicts but towards a future world without wars and poverty.
How can US imperialism dictate the fate of thousands of people who have died in wars and conflicts across the Middle East? Who is responsible for the hunger and poverty of two-thirds of the world's population and the environmental destruction of our planet? Why are workers world-wide suffering cuts in wages and conditions and our public services being sold off to big business?
In today's world a small minority of immensely wealthy people decide the rest of humanity's future. 500 transnational companies dominate world production. The richest 356 people have more wealth than the annual income of 40% of the world's population. These people's wealth has been created by the exploitation of others.
The US spends $400 billion a year on defence - over $1 trillion globally while 4.8 million people in sub-Saharan Africa die before the age of five every year - nine deaths every minute.
Our world has the resources to let everyone live peaceful lives without hunger, poverty or homelessness. But capitalism, whose ultimate goal is more profits, brutally drives down workers' wages and conditions across the world, wages wars for profit and power in the name of 'fighting terrorism' or 'spreading democracy' and supports the imperialist oppression of whole nations to safeguard its system.
Capitalists are the ruling dominant class in the world and are highly organised, defending their class and wealth by any means necessary. Their biggest fear is that workers and poor people internationally will unite in struggle to ensure that the world's resources and wealth are shared with everyone and not just the minority of rich capitalists.
Working class produces the wealth of society
The working class produces the wealth of society but they do not own either the place they work in, the tools they use or the products of their labour. Their position in society forces the working class to look towards collective solutions; that makes it the only class with the power and the consciousness to change society.
So workers and the oppressed, the vast majority of humankind, need their own independent organisations to struggle against the bosses on a daily basis as well as fighting for a socialist future.
There are many examples both today and in the past where workers have built their own organisations and fought heroically against their ruling class for a better society.
Iraq has a rich history of struggles against oppression. The Communist Party (CP) in Iraq had a mass membership in the 1950s and '60s. The CP organised a demonstration of over half a million in 1959 against the banning of political opposition parties.
Between 1959 and 1961 the CP's pressure, based on struggle and mass support, brought many reforms on the land and in the cities before the CP leadership's incorrect policies led to its defeat and persecution.
Recent struggles in South America against the effects of capitalism, and the victory of French workers and youth against attacks on workers' rights show that struggle by workers and the oppressed is still alive and can succeed. The huge demonstrations against the war and against world poverty at the G8 show that ordinary people, especially youth, are angry against the rich and powerful and want a better world.
Many people can see what they are opposed to, but we stress that only a democratic socialist society can address all these problems. We need to discuss past struggles and revolutions in order to learn from successful movements and avoid repeating past mistakes.
The regimes which collapsed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, although based on planned economies, were not socialist but bureaucratic dictatorships.
We are fighting for socialist democracy. Socialists would take the economy out of the control of the capitalist class, who give a handful of huge corporations economic power over the means of production and a few wealthy individuals control over political decisions.
A socialist society, on the other hand, would allow working-class people to democratically decide such questions as what is produced as well as on other matters impacting on their lives.
The driving forces in a socialist society would not be competition and profit but cooperation, using the world's resources to provide every human being with a decent standard of living without destroying the environment. The huge resources wasted in making weapons and fighting wars or spent on useless advertising could enable humankind to progress.
The Socialist Party is part of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) which is organised in 40 countries. Along with our sister parties we campaign and struggle every day against attacks on our public services and jobs and against war and poverty.
We are fighting for a socialist society in Britain and throughout the world that can rid the world of this unequal, oppressive and wasteful capitalist system. Join us.
In The Socialist 21 September 2006:
War and occupation
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Youth and Education
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis